ECONOMY

Greek firms hesitantly expand into booming market

The main Greek activities in Russia are to be found in the energy, trade, foods, tourism and transport sectors. About 50 Greek businesses are active in that country, which, they believe, will be one of the main motors of growth in Europe. Russia was 15th among Greece’s export destinations: In 2005, Greece exported goods worth 275.1 million euros. Curiously, one of the most important exports involves fur. (This is partly due to an agreement that Russia would use most of its revenues from supplying Greece with gas to buy Greek products.) The biggest investor is bottler Coca-Cola HBC, which operates 14 factories. «Russia is No. 1 among the 28 markets we are active in,» says Coca-Cola HBC’s Managing Director Doros Constantinou. «We continue to invest in expanding our portfolio of products, strengthening our supply network and our sales. Our business in Russia is successful and we are especially optimistic about our prospects there,» he adds. Other active companies in Russia include construction firms Aktor and Michaniki, electronics retailer Germanos, Intracom, cosmetics firm Sarantis, Motor Oil and Prometheus Gas. Another firm established there is Vivartia, formerly Delta Holdings, which has incorporated snacks company Chipita. «Vivartia is a dynamically evolving market. It has the raw materials and the well-educated work force that, in my estimation, will make it one of Europe’s growth motors in the coming years. Moreover, the criminality issues that plagued Russia are almost non-existent now,» says Vivartia Managing Director Spyros Theodoropoulos. «Retail trade is expanding at an astonishing pace. Every year, 500 shops of more than 3,000 square meters are created. This makes it easier to distribute products. Greek businesspeople are hesitant to expand there: They are mistaken,» he adds.